In light of the coronavirus pandemic, and the significant demand for this scheme, the Minister confirmed that he has increased the scheme’s budget from the original €1.5 million to €4 million, to fully fund all eligible applications received.
The scheme supports investments for calf rearing and welfare facilities and some 2,500 farmers will be directly funded under the scheme.
Commenting on this the Minister said, “The high application rate for this scheme is evidence of the strong commitment of Irish farmers to high standards of animal welfare.
“I am delighted to be in a position to fund every eligible application at the maximum grant rate.
“To do that, and against the background of the restrictions arising from COVID 19, I have increased the budget for the scheme from €1.5 million to €4 million.
“This represents a massive investment on Irish farms, and will further improve calf welfare and management.
“It is vital, especially in times such as these, that Ireland’s reputation in areas of animal health and welfare is not compromised, to ensure that the regard in which Irish Agri-food produce is held across the world in maintained.”
The Minister also spoke in relation to his priorities for the agri-food and fisheries sector in response to the challenges of Covid-19.
“My Department and I are in touch with stakeholders across the sector on a daily basis to share contingency planning and address issues as they arise, as part of the whole of Government response.
“Arising from this continued dialogue and cognisant of the advice of the Government, today I am confirming that;
“My Department is to issue guidance to marts on a very limited range of essential services that comply with Government guidelines and do not require people to assemble.
“These included measures to facilitate calf sales and the weighing of livestock, and on line or brokerage services, and are subject to the approval of Standard Operating Procedures by my Department.
“For the next two weeks routine Departmental on-farm visits will not be taking place, unless required on a risk basis.
“Essential services, such as disease control or reactor removal will continue.
“This will be kept under review as the situation evolves.
“Some inspections such as under the ‘Young Farmer Scheme’ are being conducted by telephone.”
Farming, fisheries, food and beverage production, and ancillary services, have been designated by the Government as essential services. ■